Sunday’s frenetic back nine at the PGA Championship hit a sudden slow point when the pairing of Shane Lowry and Justin Thomas reached the 16th green. Lowry, 10 under at the time, tugged his tee shot left at the par 3, settling near a camera tower.
But Lowry felt the rules officials that came in bungled the entire situation.
“I think the referee didn’t have the balls to make a decision there and, if he did, I would have had an easier shot,” Lowry told the Irish Times. “If you put [top European tour rules official] John Paramor or any of the good referees out there, he would have given me full relief.”
Lowry said he grew conscious of the time it was taking for the officials to make a ruling, knowing he was holding up Thomas as well as the rest of the contenders behind them. “He wouldn’t make a decision,” Lowry said. “The other referee said, ‘It is your decision’. I said, ‘Do you know what? I’m just going to play’. I didn’t want to wait around any longer.”
Lowry and Thomas each ended up making bogey, but Thomas absolved Lowry of any wrongdoing. “It had nothing to do with Shane,” he said. “The rules officials were having a hard time coming up with a ruling. They were kind of looking at each other and saying, well, what do we do and Shane’s like, look, just tell me if I get a drop or not.”
Lowry went on to bogey the following hole as well and finished at eight under for the tournament, good enough for a season-best share of 12th. Thomas, the defending champion, shared the lead early on the back nine. But he missed a three-footer on 14 and then, as Lowry received his ruling, hit a mediocre chip at 16, leading to another bogey. “I’m a quick player, so that’s why I went. I didn’t have the best of lies, so the less I thought about it, the better,” Thomas said. He would go on to finish T6 at 10 under.
In the end, Lowry figured it may not have affected his score on the hole. “I ended up making a good four; if I’d made double I wouldn’t have been too happy with him. It is what it is.”